|I am finally getting caught up with my journals as we have had a chance to rest for a day or two and arriving in Tacna, Peru at dark was very interesting and we had no idea where we were. We waited for the sun to come up before heading out to find out where we needed to go for the border crossing into Chile. We dodged a barrage of taxi drivers offering to take us to get away from the bus terminal where we found a taxi driver willing to take us to the international bus terminal for half of what the other drivers offered to take us for. Once there we had to go through and interesting process as we had to pay a bus tax to get in then go to the otber side and find either a car or bus that would take us the 30km to the border crossing and then another 30km to Arica, Chile. We opted for the shared car ride as it was only 2 dollars more apiece.
Here a guy came up and asked us for our passports as they needed to make a travel manifest for the border agents to which we reluctantly gave them up. Just when we were starting to worry the gentleman came back with our passports and some sheets of paper for us to give the boarder guards and we were on our way.
This drive took us out to the ugliest most remote part of South America I have ever seen, going through areas where signs were posted saying property of Peruvian Military Do Not Enter. There was nothing as far as the eye could see and reminded me of videos that i have seen of egyptian desert areas. Finally we got to this small outpost where we all got out of the car and went through a Peruvian check-point to get stamped out and then drive for a few in no mans land till the Chilean checkpoint where instantly you could see a difference. Again we got out of the car this time to a building where policemen walked around watching everyone and we had to take our luggage to put it through an x-ray machine.
The Peruvians with us were pretty harshly scrutinized and two of the were taken off to private rooms to be searched. Andrea said one of the border control ladies was checking me out and maybe that was part of why we got through so quickly but they stamped our passports and sent us to the baggage check where I had forgotten I had agricultural items that might be forbidden including coca leaves I had bought and corn natural corn snacks I had bought in Peru. I told one of the agents I had them and they said, just go on dont worry about it. So we were the last ones to go through the check point out of five people in the car, but the first to clear customs. Back in the car and now there were signs on the side of the road saying, landmines do not enter. Well I guess thats one way of controlling a remote border, but again we went on through desolate desert area for as far as the eye could see till we started to see the ocean appear and the first town in Chile, Arica.
The driver dropped us at the bus station and we got a meal and waited for the bus compaines to open so we could buy our next ticket to Antofagasta which is the second largest city in Chile. After that we were off to find a hotel and rest for a couple of days as it is Chiles independence celebration week and busses were booked for a couple of days. Now our real journey begins blazing the trail that neither one of us thought we would do going from Antofagasta, Chile to Salta, Argentina to Formosa, Argentina to Asuncion, Paraguay all of which are 20+ hour bus rides but look at it this way we are saving on hotels and we have been buying the bed seats on the bus that while they certainly are not beds there are far superior to normal seats. We moght be out of contact for a few days but I will do my best to keep everyone informed and try and get some pictures of the areas we will be traveling through as there are supposed to be some very nice areas along the way. We think of you all always and hope you are all well and know that we are doing well and experiencing some amazing places with friendly people. Till next time...